Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Final Girls meets The Storied Life of AJ Fikry when a death at this Colorado bookstore leads one bookseller into questions of her past, puzzles within cut-up books, and an answer to the tragedy that has haunted her for life. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a suspenseful thriller under the guise of a bookstore novel where what you learn between the pages of a book may help you unlock your past and your connection to others.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this “intriguingly dark, twisty” (Kirkus Reviews) debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.

Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left. “Both charming and challenging” (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review), Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a “multi-generational tale of abandonment, desperation, and betrayal…inventive and intricately plotted” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn’t this. This had far more murder and mystery than I suspected it would. No complaints though. It actually made the book far more interesting than a typical bookstore mystery. This isn’t cozy, let me tell you, but if you liked Final Girls, you’ll like this. It’s solving a mystery of the past and the present. The sections of Joey’s book are interesting but I think there would have been a better way to convey the information, but it was definitely an innovative way to get that out there. They were a bit difficult to read though. Oh well. But I liked how the mystery resolved and I liked Lydia as a character, very Gillian Flynn-esque. I look forward to reading more books by Matthew Sullivan.


One response to “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore”

  1. Phantom Paper Avatar

    I like this cover a lot! I’m happy to hear that it’s not a cosy mystery cuz I don’t take to that specific sub-genre 😛 Thanks for sharing this!


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